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The 617 will handle .357 just fine. I'd treat it like my M66s, more .38 for practice, but I wouldn't eliminate .357s, I just keep 'em to 158 grain on the range and shoot hot loads, but with slow powders. I carry 140s in either gun (SP101 or Taurus). I don't like the 125s for the forcing cone problems of the past in numerous guns and, heck, I'd rather have a little more meat in the bullet, anyway. Either gun has merit for carry. My 66 is a medium frame, but not that much heavier nor less compact than my SP101, so both are belt/IWB type guns. Neither are for a pocket. The SP101 does have a more compact grip. I have hogues on both and LOVE the SP101's feel and compact round butt design.

The SP101, IMHO, is the stronger gun because of frame design. I consider it as strong as any Smith and Wesson N frame. It's not just the locking mechanism, but the lack of a side plate, the fact that it's one solid cast/machined frame with TWO sides to it like a good single action. In addition, taking the trigger group out for cleaning and lubrication is VERY easy.

The 3" barrel on my 66 give it more sight radius and it's a tad more accurate as a result, but the SP101 is very accurate. I can get 2" groups out of it if I strain my old eyes off sandbags with my .38 wadcutter load at 25 yards. That's amazing to me for a snubby. BUT, neither gun is a pocket gun, way too heavy for that.

I don't have the 617, but it's not much different than the 66 in application. If I owned neither and wanted it for carry, I'd choose the SP101 first, just me, but it's a lovely little gun that's uber strong. Either gun would last me the rest of MY life, though, but the SP101 just feels like a solid hunk-o-steel in my hand. It's a very well built, well designed little gun.

Either of these choices, the SP101 or the medium frame Taurus, are much stronger guns in .357 than any J frame sized five shooter. I would not consider shooting .357 much at all in a J frame. J frames are for .38 special. The 686 is a strong gun, but heavy and bulky. The sorter barrel models compare well to the 617, though, and they're stronger guns than the K frames, just that I consider the SP101 even stronger. It's a little tank, bank vault, whatever adjectives you can think up. :D
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